The music we made

Quickly snapped with my cameraphone. It looks darker than it actually was.

Part One

It has been how many years – six years – tidily tucked at the back of my mind, untouched. But all the memories, the fun, the laughs and the tears of being once part of an orchestra came back and overwhelmed me – and I only fully realized the extent of how much I have missed them when I brushed off the dirt lying dormant on my violin case and diffidently attended the first practice session for the annual Artist Doctors’ Concert.

We were only scheduled to practice six times before performing as part of the Artist Doctors’ Concert programme. It was a “temprorary” orchestra, but I didn’t want it to end! I wanted it to go on, so that I can improve myself even more and one day be first desk first violin (yes, I was in a hypomanic state); I wanted to indulge myself more in the teamwork and the soft glows of music stands under the stage lights; I wanted to know more about the friends I have made there, and talk about many things…

And then, I realized all of those were but just wishes – fluffy dreams that fade, and what-ifs that hold no substance.

Part Two

My violin skills have deteriorated so much. What was I thinking, I am doing medicine – I won’t have enough time, not only now, but in the forseeable future as well. And I have left my youth behind, whether I want to admit it or not; the hands of time do not turn back.

I got a little sad, like a little child I suppose, when I spent a moment too long thinking of it. I wondered, how different would I be if I had studied arts and joined an orchestra for the past years? What kind of friends would I have? Would I have met someone special? I felt so much when I read what kawaiiviolinist wrote about her story with her orchestra, because I could totally relate, and now perhaps I can relate even more. I thought of all the things that I would have missed out on (for good or for bad)… in exchange for this medical life?

Part Three

I got a little sad, but I looked around at all the fellow doctors and medical students in the orchestra alongside me, and I received a little comfort when I realized, are they not all the same?

Those who are inspiringly good with their instruments, who enchant me with the music they make – surely they too must have, at one point in their life, considered whether to choose to pursue music as a path in life. Yet they chose medicine – and gave up on all the other dreams. I wonder if they now and anon think of some what-ifs too…

Must we all choose one path – and give up on the possibilities that the other paths hold, forever? Is that it? Is there no other way? … I almost cannot agree. I don’t know… This isn’t the first time, and I still don’t know.

12 responses to this post

  1. // reply // #

    You should dismiss the thoughts of regretting the past decisions you made to pursue your medical studies in exchange for a life in the orchestra with your violin. The decisions you made in the past reflect the person you are today. Come on, you’re a doctor!

    “Must we all choose one path – and give up on the possibilities that the other paths hold, forever?” Not necesarilly but… “Huwag kang mamangka sa dalawang ilog.”

    It translates that you shouldn’t paddle your boat in two rivers at the same time.

    I envy you really. I really want to play the violin but a single violin is really really really costly. But, there is more to life than violins is there not?

    • // reply // #

      thank you for putting it so straight, rudolph, really. i seriously need a whack. i’m sure there’s a queue of people wanting to beat me up while saying “do you know just how many people would die to get into med?”… but sometimes i really cannot help pausing and giving some things some thought. thanks for reminding again :)

      and yoko kanno’s one of my fav composers too!! yay.

      • // reply // #

        Hehehe…^__^ No problem.

        I really like Yoko Kanno!!! Weee….

  2. // reply // #

    Aw… Yoko Kanno music… *dies* I’m such a Yoko fan!

  3. // reply // #

    yo yusof.
    how did the performance go?
    i think musicians r so cool. it’s such a different ‘job’. I have this stereotype of musicians:unsteady income, charmin, freelancer, roamin around the world….. just like in the movies!

    anyway, i feel sad for those (not u) who have talent n love for one thing yet have to study another due to parental/cultural pressure. Med always seems to be wat parents always want their kids to study. I noticed it’s not only Chinese parents who have that mentality. Again, I’m not implying u!

    but doctors are cool too. in a totally different way.

    i guess u can hone ur skill as a recreation or join a social club of orchestra or bcome a musician/composer when u retire! dono..

    btw, r u sayin tat u regret choosin to be a doctor?
    wat made u choose to go into med instead of music in the first place?

    • // reply // #

      the performance was alright. nothing to write home about i guess.

      yea, but the thing if you study music as your degree – you “specialize” in one of these areas: performance, pedagogy (teaching), or composing/arranging/songwriting. and conducting is somewhere in between. if i’m not mistaken that is……

      >>btw, r u sayin tat u regret choosin to be a doctor?
      i know i sounded like that, but no, that’s not what i meant. i was wondering some “what-ifs”, that’s all.

      thanks for commenting!

  4. // reply // #

    awwww thank you for telling me. of course i don’t mind! i’m actually really touched that it affected you.

    i read your entry, too, and it made me think a lot, because i’m about to enter that time period where i might have to choose to stop playing so much. i’ll keep your entry in mind..

    (but i’m glad you’re a doctor. i can tell that you’ll be/are a really good one.)

    • // reply // #

      thanks, really :) yup i didn’t leave a comment there but i almost dropped a tear reading that entry of yours, because really i could relate.

      so what are you doing now? from your recent post you seem to have moved (i could be wrong). staying at college? keep me updated :)

  5. Anonymous
    // reply // #

    hey bro!

    those photos are nice!! with the effects you can really get around underexposed photos.

    i went to get an openid username. i’m surprised this nickname hasn’t been taken! Ok i’ll go get an account at!

    • // reply // #

      yea i had to pull them into photoshop and do some noise reduction. with the low lighting and high ISO the noise grain was too much.

      great! i forgot to tell you but if you have a zooomr account (ok i just realized it actually has 3 o’s), i can comment there because my livejournal account serves as an openID account too!

  6. Anonymous
    // reply // #

    Hey Joe,
    Yea, I understand. I was down-hearted as well when i was told by my piano teacher 3 yrs ago, that i need 1 yr to recover my skills before i could take my diploma exam, as i’ve stopped playing the piano 2 yrs for the sake of my studies.1 yr? It’s gotta be a joke. I was leaving few months later to begin my medical life. Seeing my fingers that could once dance so gracefully on the piano,yet staggering now on it,is truly disheartening.It’s like seeing ur many yrs of hard work n sacrifices diminish just like that.
    Sometimes, I’ve been thinking,if I hadnt chosen medicine, perhaps I could play more piano n sit for my diploma exam, perhaps I could take part in the Sarawak Young Musicians’ contest which i’ve been longed for,perhaps i could continue to compose more n more nice songs, even improving myself in that.However, I really have the faintest idea of how my life would be right now if i didnt choose medicine few yrs back, what kinds of friends would i make if i hadnt come here for study,what my dreams would be instead of becoming an oncologist/surgeon/medical professor..due to this,i’m pretty uncertain sometimes.
    However, I’ve found a method which overcome such dilemma, n at the same time,benifits me a lot.I tried to widen my music scope.Well, since i can no longer play piano as good as i used to be, n can no longer compose as frequent as the past, there’s no use of keeping ur emotions enclosed for that.Instead,i expand my learning of music into different areas, like studying jazz n blues( different mode scales),pentatonic scales, as well as the spainish scales,arabian n japanese scales,n learning different parts singing.It’s not that i had to spare out time for this.I do all these while enjoy listening to diff types of music during dinner time.So, while enjoying those music, i gain much theoretical knowledge from there.At least, i know better on different chords n their applicaionts, n i’ve begun to master the parts singing n ad-libbing through singing to the music.I used to think music theory as sth which is very bored n academic when i was young. But when i had musical friends practising with me for some concerts here,music theory becomes very interesting n alive when we exhange our knowledge n put them into practices.I learnt much jazz from a friend of mine over here…I agree with what u’ve said, that we’re not the only ones who had to give up music in order to pursue medicine.Look around us, n we’ll find there are plenty of them out there.The most important thing is, to believe in whatever decisions u’ve made, n go on with it.Bill Gates said this once,Life isnt always fair,however,if u make an effort to adapt to it, n believe in urself n never give up until the end, u might get some surprises when u succeed.=)


    • // reply // #

      thanks for sharing, Diana.
      haha, talk about nostalgia when you mentioned the Sarawak Young Musician thingy… :)

      seems like you really are doing well over in Kursk (have I got the spelling right?), which is great to hear. so you wanna be an oncologist/surgeon/medical professor. whoo, i cheer for you! anyways, take care ya, and drop me an e-mail some time ok? all the best!

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